About the Series

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About the Series

On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the United States, destroying the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and damaging the Pentagon, near Washington, DC. More than three thousand people—from more than eighty nations—were killed in the attacks. The nation and, indeed, the world, was shocked and horrified. Who would do such a thing? Why? The U.S. government soon answered the question of "who": the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda, led by Saudi exile Osama bin Laden. There has been no clear answer to "why," but inflicting mass casualty on the United States was undoubtedly a goal. The events of September 11 brought terrorism to international headlines and to government agendas. With the United States establishing a coalition for its "war on terror" and nations the world over reexamining their security and activating counterterrorism response teams to prepare for possible biological, chemical, nuclear, or conventional terrorist attack, the public has been bombarded with information and has often been left with more questions than answers.

How likely is it that terrorists could obtain and use a nuclear weapon? Who is Osama bin Laden and how widespread is the presence of his group, al-Qaeda? What challenges does terrorism present to the U.S. intelligence community and what must it do to meet those challenges? What motivated the hijackers who took their lives and the lives of so many others on September 11? Wading through the news and developing events to make sense of it all can be confusing and scary and, in the end, it may still not resolve all of one's questions.

History Behind the Headlines, an ongoing series from the Gale Group, strives to answer such questions in a way that television broadcasts and newspapers can not. In order to keep reports both simple and short, it is difficult for these media to give the watcher or reader enough background information to fully understand what is happening around the world today. HBH provides just that background, giving the general public, student, and teacher an account of each contemporary conflict, from its start to its present and even its future. This thoroughness is accomplished not just by the in-depth material covered in the main body of each essay, but also by accompanying chronologies, textual and biographical sidebars, maps, statistics, and bibliographic sources.

Not only does HBH provide comprehensive information on all of the conflicts it covers, it also strives to present its readers with an unbiased and inclusive perspective. Each essay, many written by an expert with a detailed knowledge of the conflict at hand, avoids taking any particular side and instead seeks to explain each vantage point. Unlike television and newspaper reports, which may only have the time, space, or even inclination to show one side of a story, HBH essays equally detail all sides involved.

Given the number of conflicts that beg for such fuller accounts that History Behind the Headlines provides, an advisory board of school and library experts helps to guide the selection process and narrow down the selection for each volume. They balance the topic lists, making sure that a proper mix of economic, political, ethnic, and geographically diverse conflicts are chosen. One to two volumes, each written in an accessible, informative way, will be released each year.

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